Villanova Innovation Update Day: the Afternoon Session

Eat and Meet Lunch Panel 2_Villanova_4Dec2015The ICE Institute hosted the second Annual Villanova Innovation Update Day: World-Changing Innovation on the Near Horizon. The afternoon events started with a panel discussion led by ICE Executive Director, II Luscri. Peter M. Hughes from NASA, Hashem Ashrafiuon from the College of Engineering, Lisa Ralph from GE, and John Jackson from Wake Forest University participated on the panel. Together, they brought their varying expertise to talk about the one thing that untied them, innovation. When asked, how companies can accelerate ideas in a physical space, the panel members all had similar answers. They believed that what a space needs is an intangible asset. They all agreed that a feeling of community fostered by experts is the basis for accelerating ideas in a physical space.

Next, Lisa Ralph, an Open Innovation Leader in Global Strategy at GE presented Open Innovation at GE. GE was one of the first major corporations to use open innovation, a faster and more collaborative approach to problems and ideas based off of the thought that more can be completed working together rather than alone. Open Innovation works with the GE community and beyond to create solutions to problems and create new products. Employees a GE spend 70% of their time completing their responsibilities, 20% completing work outside their responsibilities that will help their project, and 10% they get to work on whatever creative project they want. GE keeps a log of their employees’ skills so that when an employee gets stuck on a problem they are able to find someone within the company that can help. Further, Ralph stressed that while the people of GE are smart they aren’t the only smart ones out there. GE will post problems online and offer rewards to those who can solve them. For instance they asked for help reducing the weight of a bracket for an airplane and someone with no aviation experience was able to reduce the weight by 80%. Open Innovation is all about locating and using the resources that were there all along going unnoticed and finding new undiscovered resources to make innovation happen.

The next speaker was Dr. John Jackson, the associate professor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM). Jackson provided an update on the status of regenerating organs using human stem cells. Creating solid organs is the most complex type of cell regeneration. WFIRM is in the process of testing a new way to create organs using the stem cells of the patient. WFIRM is able to biopsy kidney cells, complete a decellularization the kidney in which only the framework is left, and then reseed the kidney structure with the stem cells and let it grow into a new kidney. This innovation is quite significant in that the body is much more likely to accept a kidney that is its own rather than a transplanted kidney. Furthermore, WFIRM has also been using a 3D bio printer in which they are able to print bone and structures that can fortify ligaments and tendons. However, there is still a lot of improvements that have to be made to 3D bio printing. There are not many bio-compatible materials that they can use, vascular structures like the lungs are too intricate to be printed, and the speed and quality must also be improved upon. Johnson affirmed that these improvements are on the horizon.

The last presentation was from a group of Villanova students called Hemabyte. They hope to change the ease in which cancer patients can receive their red and white blood cell count. The audience was very helpful in advising the student innovators. They were flooded with ideas and advice from the audience on both their product and presentation. The whole conference came together, audience members and speakers alike to help these entrepreneurs. The collaboration really exemplified the kind of intangible asset the speakers deemed necessary to accelerate ideas. The 2nd Annual Innovation Update Day looked not only towards the future of innovation, but also the future innovators.